31 January 2000
Reported, written and edited by David Duberman
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Just out from InfoValue of Elmsford, New York is QuickVideo Suite, a networked video product for live and recorded videos on the Linux platform. The modular components can be used individually or as an integrated suite. Components are:
Boutell.Com, Inc. has released Wusage 7.0, an improved version of the company's Web server statistics software. It measures the popularity of documents and analyzes both links from and links to other Web sites to provides marketing information. By determining the "trails" users follow and analyzing the sites from which they come, Wusage determines which incoming links and online advertisements are most effective.
Wusage 7.0 supports customizable reports in HTML with accompanying three-dimensional charts and graphs. A "calendar of reports" provides a structured way to access information about any time period. Year-to-year comparisons, information about the preferred operating systems of Web site visitors, and a breakdown of the most frequently used search keywords for each Internet search server used to reach the site are among the features added in 7.0.
NemeSys Music Technology's new GigaStudio 160 ($699 US) is an integrated, expandable sampling workstation. Based on the patented EndlessWave technology, each sampled voice can utilize up to 4.3 GB of memory capacity without consuming RAM storage. Samples are streamed in real time from the hard drive. NemeSys claims full articulation and performance characteristics of acoustic instruments can be preserved, with sizes exceeding one gigabyte.
GigaStudio also introduces the NFX series of MIDI controllable, real-time signal processing tools. Effects include NFX1 reverb/acoustics, NFX2 chorus/flanging, and NFX3 multi-tap delay/autopan.
If you use DSL or cable modem for getting online, but aren't concerned about security, you could be letting yourself in for a world of trouble. The best resource for boning up on this topic, bar none, is Steve Gibson's site at http://grc.com. On a recent visit, we discovered, with Gibson's recommendation, a new personal firewall program (keeps pests at bay). ZoneAlarm 2.0 provides five interlocking security services said to deliver comprehensive protection. Components include a firewall, application control, an Internet lock, dynamically assigned security levels and zones.
The software is now resident on our online system, and seems to be doing its job well. It's easy to use with a minimal set of primary functionality, but offers additional options if you need them. The client is free for personal use, and $20/year for professional use. Do it today!
WordReference.com last week launched a free (advertising-supported) dictionary service for Web sites that lets visitors double-click any English word for a quick translation or definition. The service is intended to make English language Web sites easier to read and understand for international audiences.
No redesign of Web pages is necessary. Visually, the only change is that the status line of the Web page will state "Double-click any word for a definition or translation." The Webmaster needs to paste three lines of HTML into each Web page.
WordReference.com currently provides translations to Spanish, German, French and Italian. For other users it offers English definitions from an unabridged English dictionary.
WordReference for Websites is and thus free for any Web site to incorporate. For large, professional Web sites unwilling to accept advertising, WordReference.com also offers a fee-based advertising-free service.
Proxim, Inc. and Be Incorporated announced last week a cooperative technology and marketing effort to jointly integrate Proxim’s HomeRF wireless networking technology into Be’s platform for Internet appliances, code-named Stinger. The two plan to offer a seamless wireless extension to Be’s Stinger platform, enabling Web pads and other Internet appliances and dedicated devices to distribute media and share broadband Internet access wirelessly in and around the home. Be expects to formally introduce Stinger later this quarter.
Stinger is designed for the creation of appliances that deliver information and entertainment over the Web. Based on BeOS, Stinger is customizable, offers a complete browser, and supports popular streaming audio and video standards. Compaq, National Semiconductor and Qubit have already announced plans to license Stinger for their Internet appliances.
i-drive.com last week launched InfiniteSpace, a new service that removes limits on the amount of Web content its members can store in their i-drive accounts. Users can capture and store any content from the Internet.
Also, the company just launched Filo, a browser-based application that can save a copy of any Web page to a member's i-drive. Filo is available for download for both Windows and Macintosh platforms.
WebSideStory, a specialist in Web audience analysis, last week released Yep Web companion, free software designed to make Web surfing more productive and enjoyable. Yep launches itself on a user's PC when the browser is opened. It is displayed as a small, floating application, and includes these features:
The Yep Web companion is currently available for Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher.
Xenote, Inc., a new company that lets consumers "bookmark the real world," will offer a device called the Xenote iTag and the associated xenote.com Web site in mid-2000. The keychain-sized Internet device lets users "tag" the radio and then later identify songs, purchase music, or connect to radio advertisers online. The company says future devices will have the ability to tag products, people, or even places.
A typical Xenote iTag scenario goes like this: As you're driving your car you hear some great new music on the radio, but you don't know the artist or title. Rather than waiting for the DJ to announce the artist, and hoping that you'll remember it, you click the button on your Xenote iTag. The next time you're at a computer you connect your Xenote iTag and upload the tags you've created to your own personalized Xenote Web page. Your view of the tags includes the song title, artist name and CD, plus the ability to listen to music clips, buy music from an affiliated e-tailer, and read additional information such as an artist bio or album review.
Tags are "live" and are updated with new information and artist news as it becomes available. Additionally, users can save and manage their tags, making it convenient and easy to build a collection of their interests at a single Web site. When consumers tag radio ads, they are provided the name of the advertiser, a link to the advertiser's Web site or other information, and purchase opportunities.
No doubt this will require the cooperation of your favorite radio station, but if it's a non-commercial station (in our opinion, the only type worth listening to), fuhggedaboudit. What's more, it will let your station track your listening/buying habits. Oh well: Get a little, give a little!
Xenote iTag is currently in large-scale consumer trials in test markets throughout the U.S. Widespread consumer availability is expected in Q3, 2000.
SurfMonkey.com last week shipped its suite of community products, featuring three-dimensional, interactive, animated chat rooms for kids age six and older. Kids can not only chat, but also move objects, eat virtual donuts (attaway to encourage those healthful habits!) or play music. Together, the new products allow youngsters to safely build and personalize dynamic online communities, as well as play and interact with each other in a fun and easy way.
The chat rooms are set up as a rocket-ship cockpit with a bay window looking to outer space. Here, chat participants choose from 10 different multimedia identities or avatars fashioned like wacky bugs.
Chat, plus new Web-based email and personal bulletin boards, are housed in the Surf Monkey Kids Channel Web site. All three new community features include built-in, parental-safety mechanisms and utilize SurfMonkey.com's proprietary in-page filtering technology to protect kids from inappropriate language and potential predators in real time while allowing them to benefit from the full potential of the Internet.
Newly available from Digimation is Foley Studio MAX, developed by Boomer Labs. The $395 plug-in lets 3D Studio MAX users add .wav files that interact with scenes in 3D space.
Through February 29, get Foley Studio MAX, Flex Sound and Sand Blaster for $690.
Autodesk division Discreet last week demonstrated its 3D Studio MAX software on Intel's first version of the new IA-64 class of processors, the Intel Itanium processor, previously known by the code name Merced. At Intel's International Sales and Marketing Conference, Discreet demonstrated its modeling and animation solution running native on the IA-64 processor.
Intel expects Itanium-based systems to begin appearing in the second half of 2000. Discreet plans to offer a version of 3D Studio MAX software optimized for the Itanium processor and is working with other 3D Studio MAX plug-in vendors to ensure that complete solutions are available when the Itanium-optimized version of 3D Studio MAX is released. Autodesk also plans to optimize leading design platforms such as Autodesk Inventor and AutoCAD software to run on the new IA-64 processor.
Also recently announced, the mental ray rendering software from mental images will be made available in a native 64-bit version for Itanium.
Nichimen Graphics, rumored to be in financial trouble, last week released Mirai 1.1 ($6495), an upgrade to its 3D software suite. Targeted primarily toward game developers and character animators, Mirai, which means "prosperous future" in Japanese, is the next evolution of Nichimen's N-World suite of real-time content creation tools.
Mirai 1.1 reportedly boasts increased display, I/O, and render speed, plus the following:
England's Superscape VR plc announces the development and release of Superscape e-Visualizer (SeV), new technology designed for the Internet, designed to deliver an interactive 3D visualization platform for e-business environments. SeV is complementary with existing rich media technologies and compatible with standard Web content authoring tools.
The product reportedly delivers photorealistic objects with file sizes that are typically less than the equivalent photograph, but also provides an interactive 3D experience. The "browser," which lets the user interact in 3D, is said to download almost instantaneously, in an operation effectively transparent to the user.
Criterion Software Ltd. last week announced an alliance with Sega Enterprises, Ltd. to provide its 3D graphics library, RenderWare3, as a middleware component for Dreamcast. RenderWare3 for Dreamcast will be available starting today.
Criterion says its third-generation 3D game development toolkit has been optimized over the last six months to take advantage of Dreamcast's architecture.
Tech Soft America (TSA), developer of the HOOPS 3D Application Framework (HOOPS/3dAF), is planning an aggressive program to promote the development of 3D desktop and Web-based applications for the rapidly growing Linux platform.
In partnership with Troll Tech and its Qt GUI Software Toolkit, Tech Soft will be demonstrating a framework based on both the HOOPS and Qt products at Linux World Expo, February 1-4, 2000 in New York City at booth No. 673. HOOPS and a HOOPS-based CFD application will also be on display at the Hewlett-Packard booth No. 655.
The "Free 3D for Linux" program is designed to promote the development of advanced 3D applications on Linux, and the royalty-free proliferation of non-commercial applications. Commercial applications based on the HOOPS framework, as well as applications ported and distributed on platforms other than Linux will be subject to HOOPS' standard license and royalty terms.
U.S. consumers are expected to spend $10 billion on health-related products online in 2004, but they are unimpressed by the current online offerings, according to new research unveiled by Jupiter Communications, Inc.. Since the health industry faces several logistical, regulatory and delivery barriers, players must partner to create a seamless, convenient online experience in order to survive.
Jupiter's new online health research, unveiled during the opening session of last week's inaugural Jupiter Online Health Forum in Orlando, Fla., indicated that 45 percent of online consumers access the Internet for health information, but they remain skeptical about purchasing health products online. In a Jupiter consumer survey of more than 1,600 online consumers, 49 percent of respondents stated that they do not buy health products online because they feel that it is more convenient to pick up such items when doing other shopping. Consumers also cited difficulty in returning items to an online merchant and slow product delivery as significant deterrents.
Jupiter suggests that sites work quickly to either partner or purchase other players to create the best possible end-to-end offerings. To date, many health partnerships have focused on exclusivity, which may offer short-term benefits but will limit the value for consumers in the long run by compromising the site's future business prospects.
Sonic Foundry is branching out. The company, previously known as a developer and marketer of audio software, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all of the outstanding stock of Jedor Inc., a Canadian-based developer of image and animation technology.
Jedor recently introduced Viscosity, a Windows-based authoring tool that lets users edit and arrange frames of animation or video sequences. The 2D animation-authoring tool, used for Web projects, offers options and features including on-screen thumbnails of every frame, drag-and-drop options for frames, and multi-frame and multi-layer editing.
Electronic Arts has licensed the Quake III Arena engine from id Software. EA will use the engine to develop several games, including the James Bond title The World is Not Enough and American McGee's Alice. Both titles are in development for separate releases in late 2000.
Quake III Arena's graphics engine displays 3D environments using features such as curved surface rendering, high-detail textures, volumetric fog and specular lighting.
American McGee's Alice is in production at EA's Redwood City, California headquarters and Rogue Studios in Dallas, Texas and will be produced and directed by P.O.V. category veteran American McGee. The game is a phantasmagoric rendition of the classic Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, putting the player in the role of a resourceful Alice, reborn to handle the challenges of a sinister Wonderland.
Just out from Activision and getting a big thumbs-up from the Spectrum staff is Battlezone II: Combat Commander. This follow-up to one of '98's best games is, again, a hybrid of first-person action with real-time strategy. Developed by Pandemic Studios, the game takes place over six worlds with diverse environments, from steaming jungles to rocky wastelands and ruined cities half-buried in nuclear snow.
Game features include:
· Command over 30 troop types, including tanks, infantry, air support and mobile assault turrets. New in the sequel are squad commands.
· Advanced AI let units gain experience and accuracy as they advance through missions.
· "living" worlds support environment interaction and physics models
· switch vehicles in the battlefield, and use 25 weapons
· new team play options let players take on different roles, such as builder, defender, or attacker, and communicate through the integrated command interface.
Electronic Arts-owned Maxis says its next title, The Sims, will be available in North America retail outlets this week. Created by SimCity originator Will Wright over five years, the game lets players control the lives and relationships of a neighborhood of simulated people.
Sony Computer Entertainment America announced last week its software lineup for spring 2000. Titles currently scheduled for release during the spring season for the PlayStation game console include:
Speed Punks is cart racing with attitude. Game features include:
The sequel to 1997's role-playing title Wild Arms, Wild Arms 2 features include:
MediEvil II finds the undead anti-hero Sir Daniel Fortesque awakened once again from his peaceful eternal slumber to fight foul demons and evil villains in a twisted gothic version of Victorian London.
Grind Session brings skateboarding to the PlayStation.
eight freestyle 3D areas featuring real Van's Triple Crown skate park configurations
The Legend of Dragoon, developed over three years by a team of more than 100 and spanning four CDs, challenges RPG enthusiasts and adventure gamers to delve into an enormous fantasy world.
Take Two Interactive Software has begun releasing games for the Linux operating system. The company's recently acquired Global Star division, based in Toronto, has released 100 Great Linux Games Vol. 1.
100 Great Linux Games Vol. 1. lets users of Red Hat 6.0, or higher, Linux operating systems play games like Chess and Pong in 3D as well a number of 2D games.
Also, Take Two division Rockstar Games is developing two games for Sony's PlayStation2 gaming system in conjunction with Angel Studios, Inc. Midnight Club: Street Racing and Getaway should be available this fall.
Angel Studios is the developer of Microsoft's Midtown Madness and Nintendo's Ken Griffey's Slugfest series of Major League Baseball games.
Midnight Club: Street Racing is a game based around illegal street racing. Players drive performance-enhanced cars around busy city streets until they are challenged by another member of the illusive Midnight Club, and race at breakneck speeds through the city.
Getaway is a racing game in which players have to deliver contraband across borders while being chased by the police and other smuggling operations. Set in a variety of rural environments with a panoramic perspective, the game's physics engine is said to recreate the speed and sensations of tearing across the country, through farms, fences and forests while trying to outrun a variety of enemies.
Eidos Interactive's excellent Soul Reaver: Legacy of Kain is now shipping for the Sega Dreamcast. The Dreamcast version, developed by Crystal Dynamics, features graphical enhancements over other versions of the game and also boasts 60 frames per second throughout.
Gamers assume the role of Raziel, a vampire who must feed on the souls of his undead brethren as he stalks the material and spectral planes of existence seeking to destroy his creator, Kain, in the 3D action adventure sequel to Legacy of Kain: Blood Omen.
Microsoft Corp. says it has shipped over two million copies of the Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings game worldwide. The title reportedly reached the top position on the sales charts in the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia and Korea.
Age of Empires II spans 1,000 years, from the fall of Rome to the Middle Ages, and challenges players to lead one of 13 civilizations into greatness. Developed by Ensemble Studios of Dallas, the title features the design expertise of Bruce Shelley, co-creator of such game classics as Civilization and Railroad Tycoon.
Each of the game's 13 civilizations, including the Mongols, Celts, Vikings and Japanese, features distinctive attributes, buildings and technologies and a unique combat unit based on its historical counterpart. In addition, Age of Empires II features five campaigns based on the adventures of prominent historical figures, including Joan of Arc, William Wallace and Ghengis Khan.
Macromedia announces record revenues of $65,504,000 for the quarter ending December 31, 1999, a 69% increase over last year's third quarter revenue of $38,827,000. Excluding one-time and non-cash charges, net income for the quarter was $8,238,000, or $0.15 per share, as compared with net income of $2,079,000 or $0.04 per share, in the same quarter a year ago. The financial results for all periods presented have been restated to reflect the acquisition of Elemental Software Inc. and Andromedia, both of which were accounted for as a pooling of interests.
Revenues for the nine months ended December 31, 1999 increased 65% to $177,365,000, up from $107,463,000 for the same period a year ago. Excluding one-time and non-cash charges, net income for the nine-month period reached $17,830,000, or $0.33 per share, as compared with net income of $4,215,000, or $0.09 per share, a year ago.
Last week Miller Freeman, Inc. publicly announced the top entries that will advance to the final round of the second annual GDC Independent Games Festival. Finalists are competing for a $10,000 grand prize and the attention of prospective electronic game publishers. The top interactive game submissions will be exhibited at the Game Developers Conference Expo (March 10-12, San Jose Convention Center), a trade-only event.
The nine projects selected from entries around the world are:
This year’s finalists include a fast-paced puzzler involving a space-age astronaut, an epic saga of colonizing a magical land, and a classic card game in 3D. Game genres run the gamut from battle tank racing that includes a multi-player deathmatch mode to a medieval fantasy world where the goal is to unite people through diplomacy, magic and battle. Development teams hail from Russia, Hungary, Canada and various cities across the U. S.
Milia, Europe's premiere multimedia confab, takes place again next month, and even if you can't afford the plane fare, you can cast your vote for the winner of the festival's prestigious Milia d’Or People's Choice award. Nominees include Sierra's smash hit Half Life, Interplay's ground-breaking RPG Baldur's Gate, the scary Playstation title Silent Hill, Microsoft's absorbing chart-topper Age of Empires II: Age of Kings, and Aftermath Media's innovative DVD title Tender Loving Care.
To make your voice heard in the People's Choice, head over to http://www.milia.com/db/milia/webdriver?MIval=Vote.html.
Shift, a educational CD-ROM for young drivers launched in June 1999, has been judged the best community initiative in Australia's Windscreens O'Brien Awards. Shift was designed and developed by Fusion to encourage young drivers to learn about the importance of driver experience and attitude in staying out of trouble - and alive - as a new licence holder. 30,000 copies of the CD ROM have been distributed throughout New South Wales, with demand continuing to increase.
Drivers using the program are able to take on the role of a car crash investigator at an accident scene and are asked to uncover factors contributing to the incident. Simulated driving environments where hazard detection and avoidance is tested also involve a "virtual newsroom" where users have to research and write a television report on why young drivers are at risk.
Researchers, developers and users of virtual reality technology will convene at the 4th International Immersive Projection Technology Workshop. Called IPT 2000, the event will take place June 19-20 at Iowa State University's Howe Hall.
Organized by ISU's Virtual Reality Applications Center and the Fraunhofer Institute Industrial Engineering, Stuttgart, Germany, the conference will showcase new and unique work in projection-based immersive environments for virtual reality applications.
Topics to be discussed at the conference include new developments in projection technology, software systems and projection-based immersive environments. Attendees will examine various types of immersive display systems, including "caves," tables and walls as well as "cyberstages," portals and desks. The workshop will also cover applications of these technologies. Engineering design, virtual prototyping, architecture, art, manufacturing simulation, robotics, flight simulation, medicine, scientific visualization and education are just some of many uses for immersive environments and virtual reality.
The workshop will take full advantage of VRAC's advanced virtual reality equipment. C2 is a 12-by-12-by-9 ft. virtual reality room that surrounds users with images on three walls and the floor.
C6, which is slated for opening before the conference, is a larger, more advanced environment that will completely immerse participants with images on four walls, the ceiling and floor. Contributors will be able to present their work in the form of talks and live demos using the C2, and if available, the new C6.
The conference is open to engineers, managers, researchers, teachers, students, artists and anyone interested in immersive projection and related technologies. Registration fees are approximately $400 for general participants (student and early registration discounts available). To register, call (515) 294-3092, fax (515) 294-5530, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the IPT 2000 Web site at http://www.vrac.iastate.edu/ipt2000/.
The Fraunhofer Institute Industrial Engineering's Virtual Reality Competence Center forms an interdisciplinary team in which engineers, computer scientists, designers and architects cooperate, explore and develop new innovative methods. For more information, visit its Web site at http://vr.iao.fhg.de/.
The Virtual Reality Applications Center is a member of the Institute for Physical Research and Technology, a network of research and technology-transfer centers and industrial-outreach programs at Iowa State University. For more information, visit its Web site at http://www.vrac.iastate.edu/.
Spectrum is an independent news service published every Monday for the interactive media professional community by Motion Blur Media. Spectrum covers the tools and technologies used to create interactive multimedia applications and infrastructure for business, education, and entertainment; and the interactive media industry scene. We love to receive interactive media and online development tools and CD-ROMs for review.
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